Red Days

Fiction - General
118 Pages
Reviewed on 05/19/2017
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

M L Sparrow is currently the author of four full length novels, two novellas and a slew of short stories published in various anthologies. Her novella, A Tangled Web, was a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

She will write pretty much anything that pops into her head, no matter the genre, and enjoys keeping her readers guessing as to what she will write next, though you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some degree of romance!

As well as writing, she enjoys travelling and has been to some amazing countries, where she never fails to gather inspiration and has an endless supply of ideas for future novels…

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Red Days is a young and new adult environmental fiction novel written by M.L. Sparrow. Keiko Saito enjoyed her life in London. She was a reporter for a notable newspaper, had a boyfriend, and loved the spacious apartment which they shared. Keiko’s Japanese parents had pushed her as she was growing up, demanding excellence in her academic achievements. While she often wished they would show some approval of her accomplishments, she acknowledged that their high standards had helped her succeed in life so far. Unlike other graduates, Keiko had been recruited right out of school, and she loved her job, at least most of the time. She was currently lagging on her most recent assignment, which was about childhood obesity in the UK. The topic had been done so many times in so many different ways that Keiko couldn’t seem to get a new and authentic approach. When her boss, Mr. Jacobs, told her that he was taking her off the assignment, Keiko became alarmed and began to blurt out assurances that she’d have it finished soon, but Mr. Jacobs had an entirely different assignment for Keiko, one that he saw as a promotion. While she was affronted at first that he had chosen her as for the assignment in Japan, she agreed to keep her mind open until she had viewed the DVD he handed her. The film it contained, The Cove, had won the 2009 audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. Watching it in her flat later that evening would change Keiko’s life forever.

M.L. Sparrow’s new adult environmental fiction novel, Red Days, takes Keiko and the reader to Taiji, a small village in Japan where, since 1969, a handful of fishermen conduct a ruthless and bloody harvesting and slaughter of dolphins. Sparrow’s work, while fiction, details the timeline of events leading up to Ric O’Barry’s release of his film, The Cove, as well as the efforts made by protesters from around the world to expose and stop the slaughter. I had been unaware of the Taiji Dolphin Drive and was appalled and saddened by what I learned from this book as well as during the online searches I made as I read Red Days. I applaud Sparrow’s efforts in increasing the awareness of this brutal event which is still being held from late autumn through March. Sparrow’s plot, which follows Keiko’s trip to Japan and subsequent series of articles on the Slaughter, is well written and kept my attention throughout. I enjoyed seeing Keiko’s interactions with her Japanese grandparents as well as noting how her friendship with Jed Kenrick, a volunteer working with Ric grew. Red Days focuses attention on a little-known tragedy and the cultural contrasts that allow the Japanese government and the village of Taiji to maintain an awful tradition, and, while saddened, I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to read this work. Red Days is most highly recommended.

Dr. Oliva Dsouza

Red Days by ML Sparrow makes you experience the horror of the Taiji Dolphin Hunt through the experiences of its protagonist, Keiko Saito. Japanese by virtue of being born to Japanese parents, Keiko is a young Englishwoman, living her urban life as a reporter. Suddenly, when she is asked to visit Japan to do a piece on the dolphin hunt and the efforts of the conservationists to stop it, she starts off on a journey that proves to be life changing. Meeting people like Ric and Jed who have dedicated their lives to save the dolphins and bring about change, despite great risk to their personal safety, inspires her to take up the cause like an activist. Having lost and found love, a new purpose to her writing and life, Keiko's transition from a naive reporter to a courageous woman is exhilarating and liberating at once.

Reading Red Days by ML Sparrow has been an eye opener. It fills one with rage to learn the graphic details of the inhumane and horrible methods used to kill and maim innocent dolphins in the guise of culture, tradition and livelihood. It is shameful that the world has kept quiet and allowed such carnage to happen without raising a hue and cry. Keiko's story inspires one to believe that anyone with the will to bring about change can do so with a little bit of grit and determination. Kudos to the author for having written a story that is gripping and sensitive. Hopefully, many readers will be inspired to do their bit to make this world a better, kinder place for all of us who inhabit it.

Marta Tandori

Red Days is a passionate work of fiction by writer ML Sparrow, which brings awareness of the horrors of the annual Taiji Dolphin Slaughter. Although only a novella, it nevertheless packs the punch of a full-length novel and provides valuable information and links to sources closely associated with the subject matter at hand. Twenty-five-year-old Keiko (Kiki) Sato is living a charmed life; the kind of life many of her contemporaries would give their eye-teeth to have. Of Japanese heritage, Keiko lives in a spacious apartment in central London with her good-looking and well-earning boyfriend, Julian, and had been lucky enough to have been recruited directly out of school to work as a reporter for one of London’s top newspapers. She’s still trying to make a name for herself at the paper and the going isn’t always easy, but things take a turn for the better after she’s called into her boss’s office. Keiko’s given a new assignment together with a DVD which she’s to watch. The DVD is called The Cove, produced by Ric O’Barry, an American who had captured and trained dolphins for a classic American television show from the sixties before deciding to found Dolphin Project, a group dedicated to helping dolphins in need. Soon, Keiko is on her way to Taiji, Japan in order to interview Ric O’Barry. Once there, she’s swept away by his passion and that of Ric’s assistant activist, Jed Kenrick. The two men take her to the infamous cove where the dolphins are driven and subsequently slaughtered. These horrific days are known as red cove days – days when the normally blue water turns an ugly red from all the spilled dolphin blood as they’re systematically slaughtered. Little by little, Keiko sheds her reporter’s objectivity and the trappings of her former life, eventually becoming a passionate and spirited activist, supported at every turn by Jed Kenrick, a man who Keiko admires very much…

Non-fiction books that focus on a cause are difficult to write, works of fiction even more so. The fiction aspect of the story requires believable characters, pacing, and a compelling story while not losing sight of the purpose of the book – which is to highlight a cause. The author manages to balance the two rather nicely in Red Days. What was particularly well done was the way in which Sparrow captured the inner conflict Keiko sometimes had with her heritage. She initially resented the fact that her boss gave her the Taiji assignment on the basis that she could easily blend in with the locals, yet relied on the fact that she blended in so that she could gain admittance to the Whaling Museum without being singled out as a foreigner. Many others, like Jed, were considered trouble-making activists and automatically banned from entering. The budding romance that develops between Keiko and Jed is sweet in that it’s a shared passion for each other as well as their fight to abolish the dolphin slaughter at Taiji. It would have been very easy for Sparrow to wring every last emotion from her readers through the inordinate use of adjectives. Luckily, she chose not to do that, instead letting her well-chosen words carry the emotional impact necessary to keep her readers engaged and, above all, committed not only to the book, but to a worthwhile cause. For lovers of animals and animal activists the world over, Red Days packs a powerful punch and is certainly worth the read.

Charles Remington

Red Days by M.L. Sparrow is an engaging novel constructed around a truly horrific annual event – the slaughter of dolphins, whales and porpoises in the coves of Taiji, Japan. The story follows Keiko Saito, a British journalist born of Japanese parents, who is given an assignment by her editor to write an article on the annual slaughter. Underwhelmed at first, she is quickly fired up for the task when she is handed a first class plane ticket to travel to Japan and make an in-depth study for her article. There she meets Jed Kenrick, an activist working with Ric O’Barry (a real-life campaigner who has been woven into the narrative). Together they arrange for Keiko to witness the slaughter at first hand. Sickened by the senseless killing and determined to do her bit to put a stop to it, she returns to London, presenting a hard-hitting article to her paper and becoming involved in the campaign to promote awareness of this barbaric annual event. Taking some of her holiday leave, she returns to Japan at her own expense to carry out further research and pay a visit to her family who, she is surprised to learn, along with most Japanese, know nothing of the Taiji slaughter. Working closely with Jed Kendrick, their friendship starts to deepen and back in London she realises that her feelings for him have developed beyond mere camaraderie. Returning once more to Japan, their relationship blossoms and is continued via Skype on her return home. It would be a shame to give away any more of the story, but there is plenty of action in the closing chapters.

I was appalled by the revelations in Ms Sparrow’s book and took the trouble to check the Taiji situation, finding a considerable amount of information and distressing video footage of this continuing event on line. The Japanese government allows the slaughter on the basis that dolphins are depleting fish stocks, while the small number of fishermen involved maintain that it is part of their culture and nothing to do with the rest of the world. Of course, they also seek to protect their livelihoods. I suppose it could be argued that nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’ (Tennyson) and in any case, dolphins kill to survive and killer whales have been filmed playing with their prey much like cats will torment mice. But isn’t it our ability to emphasise, and our sense of right and wrong, what makes us human? As a race, we have put a stop to so many barbaric practices (though many continue). Can we not put a stop to this senseless slaughter? But I mustn’t drone on - my function as a reviewer is to present a balanced view of the book in question. Red Days by M.L. Sparrow is a creditable story and a worthwhile read, whether or not you are interested in the welfare of cetaceans. I do not hesitate to recommend it.